Mistakes of the Past


Mistakes of the Past

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AB2014
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Diogenese - 1 May 18 10:27 PM
Certain types of organisations such as universities do ask about unspent convictions because they have a duty of care to the students. However, what seems to happen is that the information is assessed by the HR department and not shared with the actual recruiter. This means that any questions will have been asked and answered prior to an interview.

This arrangement has huge benefits to those with a criminal record to disclose as they can attend an interview free from the worry of any disclosure at that point and should they be offered the post, their criminal record will not be a matter for public consumption but remains firmly with the HR department.

I would imagine there are some exceptions to this, depending on the nature of the conviction but this certainly opens up opportunities.

I think the best practice for universities and colleges is to look at relevant unspent convictions, rather than all unspent convictions, so many should be ignored as a matter of procedure. If the course involves a work placement with vulnerable people, then it's a matter of filtering anyway.
Derek Arnold
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Certain types of organisations such as universities do ask about unspent convictions because they have a duty of care to the students. However, what seems to happen is that the information is assessed by the HR department and not shared with the actual recruiter. This means that any questions will have been asked and answered prior to an interview.

This arrangement has huge benefits to those with a criminal record to disclose as they can attend an interview free from the worry of any disclosure at that point and should they be offered the post, their criminal record will not be a matter for public consumption but remains firmly with the HR department.

I would imagine there are some exceptions to this, depending on the nature of the conviction but this certainly opens up opportunities.
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Thorswrath - 30 Apr 18 8:12 PM
Airlane - 30 Apr 18 12:26 PM
Does anyone out there have positive experiences with employers who state they will take ex-offenders? I've tried the prominent firms such as Virgin and Timpson but they rule out anyone with the letters SO after his name.


Well i'm only in employment because i go for jobs where they don't ask about previous or unspent convictions. I am not surprised that Timpson or Virgin don't take on SO's, i guess it may depend also on the type and severity of the crime which afforded the individual that label. However in my experience of trying to 'do the right thing' by going down the traditional route of employment and telling employers about my conviction, it amounts to nothing but set backs and rejections and it gets to the point where you have to start thinking about your own safety since you are someone who not only is divulging these details but providing them with your home address, e-mail address, phone number and you don't know who you are giving this information out to.

I wouldn't bother with recruitment agencies either, been there, tried it and failed. They will always tell you that having an unspent conviction won't be a barrier but it is. You can't really get any worse employability status in the job market than being an RSO.

If you have only just started looking for work then its going to be a long and arduous task...but not impossible. You need to find a way to get infront of the actual decision makers, not HR departments of big firms. If you find work where they don't ask about unspent convictions then you have to learn quickly how to be the 'grey man' and not get too close to people but close enough so you are socialble and polite at work. My rule these days is to never socialise outside of work with anyone i work with because there is too much at stake.

It all comes down to perseverence, how much rejection can you handle and still keep going? I even got a days work once with an agency in a parcel sorting depot slap bang in the middle of an industrial estate and the following day i stupidly told the recruiter i had an unspent conviction and what it was for, i was then told not to come in and further to that, was not paid for the work i done. When i asked him about it he said, 'i don't give a f##k, take me to court' this was from a big recruitment firm which i wont divulge the details on here. 

You will learn eventually what works and what doesn't.



There are plenty of employers who just don't ask. Whether that's because they can't be bothered, or they don't want the expense or they'd rather make their own assessment, it all comes down to not having to disclose. It probably applies to smaller, local companies that are on only one site. Once they have a head office with a corporate HR department, those diligent HR minions start devising checklists to justify their own jobs, and then reject anything they see as 'non-standard'. Most recruitment agencies have the same approach. 
Thorswrath
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Airlane - 30 Apr 18 12:26 PM
Does anyone out there have positive experiences with employers who state they will take ex-offenders? I've tried the prominent firms such as Virgin and Timpson but they rule out anyone with the letters SO after his name.


Well i'm only in employment because i go for jobs where they don't ask about previous or unspent convictions. I am not surprised that Timpson or Virgin don't take on SO's, i guess it may depend also on the type and severity of the crime which afforded the individual that label. However in my experience of trying to 'do the right thing' by going down the traditional route of employment and telling employers about my conviction, it amounts to nothing but set backs and rejections and it gets to the point where you have to start thinking about your own safety since you are someone who not only is divulging these details but providing them with your home address, e-mail address, phone number and you don't know who you are giving this information out to.

I wouldn't bother with recruitment agencies either, been there, tried it and failed. They will always tell you that having an unspent conviction won't be a barrier but it is. You can't really get any worse employability status in the job market than being an RSO.

If you have only just started looking for work then its going to be a long and arduous task...but not impossible. You need to find a way to get infront of the actual decision makers, not HR departments of big firms. If you find work where they don't ask about unspent convictions then you have to learn quickly how to be the 'grey man' and not get too close to people but close enough so you are socialble and polite at work. My rule these days is to never socialise outside of work with anyone i work with because there is too much at stake.

It all comes down to perseverence, how much rejection can you handle and still keep going? I even got a days work once with an agency in a parcel sorting depot slap bang in the middle of an industrial estate and the following day i stupidly told the recruiter i had an unspent conviction and what it was for, i was then told not to come in and further to that, was not paid for the work i done. When i asked him about it he said, 'i don't give a f##k, take me to court' this was from a big recruitment firm which i wont divulge the details on here. 

You will learn eventually what works and what doesn't.



Airlane
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Does anyone out there have positive experiences with employers who state they will take ex-offenders? I've tried the prominent firms such as Virgin and Timpson but they rule out anyone with the letters SO after his name.


Derek Arnold
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I try to recall my understanding of the prison system in the days before I was caught up in its net. I knew nothing of different categories and certainly knew nothing of the inner workings of prisons, the regime, the expectations on residents nor the progression routes.

Given the environment, the lack of funding, the attitudes, the expectations of 100% perfection in every encounter and engagement, the need to put aside common sense, ignore discrimination, fight determinedly to access the very targets deemed necessary for progression it is a wonder that any resident is able to progress.

Impossible targets on a sentence plan, long waiting lists or unavailability of 'behavioural' courses, the fear of retribution and penalties for any failure makes for an extremely stressful situation for many people. Meeting those targets, passing those courses and avoiding penalties makes individual accomplishments all the more impressive. Like salmon swimming against the current, such successes should be applauded.
Thorswrath
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I was lucky to avoid prison, but i know people who have been inside, one person i know said it was the most miserable and depressing time of his life, he went to a cat B and another person i know went to a cat C open prison where he said it wasn't great but it was a bit more comfortable than he expected, i imagine mainly down to the fact he made good friends with his room mate and i reckon that's half the battle, trying to fit in or not stand out. 

I think the public are referring to cat C open prisons when they say 'everyone gets playstations and TV's ' but even there you don't get any of that stuff as far as i know my pal only had a radio and some of his personal music collection.

There is not enough media attention given to successful rehabilitation so the public is ill informed about what is actually possible. I've seen people who were really in a bad way with drugs manage to turn their lives around (myself included) but do you hear about their struggles and successes in the news ? not unless it's a celebrity. I've sat infront of employers before and tried to talk to them about how i've dealt with my own behaviour by getting help but in most cases all they hear is 'criminal' blah blah blah 'offender' blah blah blah 'excuses' blah blah blah.

I agree with the OP, that rehabilitation in a practical sense is not yet really understood other than by very well educated and practiced professionals. There is no national recognised standard of rehabilitation except person A has not committed X offence for X number of years.

I think people need to understand that someone of previous good character can end up making bad mistakes in life, but equally can use the experience to learn and adapt into a better person, there are people who have had a bad deal in life in terms of their social circles and family life, lack of opportunites other than a criminal route who seemingly start out bad from the offset who somehow still manage to find a way out and leave that life behind them. It should be celebrated more often and thus it would be better able to be encouraged.


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Outsourced - 24 Apr 18 3:19 PM
Money is the key. No government funding or contracts issued to companies that require disclosure for non exemption posts. Higher rates and less tax breaks to cover the costs of tax loss from workers on benefits. 

Business owners would be changing overnight to save cash and then how small the job centre que would be....... 

The cynic in me says some businesses would be queueing up to sign ex-offenders for the financial benefits, then dumping them and employing the next tax-break, sorry, ex-offender. They would still be picky about just which tax-break, sorry, ex-offender they employ. Other businesses would carry on as before.
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Money is the key. No government funding or contracts issued to companies that require disclosure for non exemption posts. Higher rates and less tax breaks to cover the costs of tax loss from workers on benefits. 

Business owners would be changing overnight to save cash and then how small the job centre que would be....... 
AB2014
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Diogenese - 24 Apr 18 10:58 AM
Many people with a conviction find it to be a life sentence in all but name.

I have yet to find anything in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act that is actually meaningful to the rehabilitation of ex-offenders. The name says it all really, doesn't it? The perception will always be that one is dealing with a current offender rather than someone whose offending is in the past and never likely to be repeated (for the majority of us at least).

While Business in the Community is signing up increasing numbers of organisations to the Ban the Box initiative, there is still an inherent mindset around those who have been to prison. Like all sectors of society, there are degrees of offending, degrees of rehabilitation and degrees of commitment to a steady and productive future but the ROA is a one-size-fits-all approach that mirrors exactly what happens whilst in prison.

Meaningful activities turn out to be completely the opposite and agencies paid to provide assistance to move on, fail to do so. Whilst there are educational and vocational courses dotted around different establishments, they really amount to very little when it comes to finding a job.

Education to level 2 is all well and good, but for many people, it accomplishes nothing but ticks boxes designed to promote to society how well the justice system is doing. Participation in many of the activities and courses within prison requires any rational person to suspend all common sense and ignore the obvious flaws in the teachings.

There's nothing inherently wrong with what the system is trying to do but there is nothing in its approach that fosters any real accomplishment or that translates accomplishments into real-world acknowledgement.

I believe there would be beneficial to invite more employers to visit prisons, to see for themselves what is trying to be accomplished. To see how those who may be future employees are engaging with their progress, despite the flaws. They need to see and understand that not all of those they see may be knocking on their door for a job because many have connections to family businesses or are simply not interested in the type of approach they will encounter.

At the same time, the prison system needs to allow the individual to take credit for their successes instead of trying to always claim it for themselves while always crediting the resident with any failure, whether it be their fault or not.

The current system hides the success of the individual, perpetuating the belief that no one accomplishes anything in prison unless a whip and a chair are used to coerce and force them into compliance. Prison is a waste of time and for many individuals turning that wasted time into something engaging is a priority - they explore new avenues of education or even vocational courses as a means of keeping busy and occupying the mind. In the process, they may discover a brand new outlet and pursue it with vigour.

I can relate my experiences at HMP Ford where many good ideas never saw the light of day either because there was no funding (no matter how cheap) or because any success could not be attributed to the establishment.

The old belief that people should go to prison for punishment still perpetuates the thinking of both society as a whole and many in the prison service. The message should be that being in prison is the punishment and that many people work their socks off to leave the past behind, they take advantage of anything positive offered to them in order to better their chances later.

Any time something is reported in the media, it is with a negative slant. The general public believes that prisons are 5-star hotels with luxury accommodation, and wall-to-wall games consoles, digital TVs and satellite connections. No one ever dispels those beliefs and so prisoners live a life of luxury at the expense of the taxpayer. The fact that any privilege has to be earned and bought from one's own money and that there are limitations on what can be earned never seems to filter through to the media and so the lie is further perpetuated.

Having been hospitalised a number of times whilst in prison, I can attest to the change in attitude of many other patients and their visitors when they engage at a personal level. Putting aside the utter humiliation of being chained to the furniture and watched over by a couple of prison staff, those you encounter come to realise that we're all human beings and they should nothing but kindness.

If this could be distilled into meaningful engagement with the rest of society, then something positive could be achieved. What employers don't realise is that many of us have been working in society prior to being released, dealing with the public in charity shops or supporting children and vulnerable adults, engaging in community projects, going home to spend time with children and family and so much more.

The people they seek to marginalise are already out there, doing some wonderful things, helping people in many ways yet all we will hear about is that some mad slasher has absconded and so the rest of the prison population must be put to the torch, locked in the deepest, darkest dungeon and the key thrown away.

I can only agree with you on this. The ROA was written in a different age with different attitudes, and the thinking hasn't really moved with the times. There are 11.5 million people on the PNC, so I'm guessing that many, if not most, of them have jobs.

I remember when I was in prison. The governor tried very hard to get local employers to come in, with a view to giving prisoners a chance when they get out. Not one single employer was interested. Then the Prison Service set up 131 Solutions to generate business with low labour costs. Suddenly, employers were interested in cheap labour, but still weren't interested in employing the same guys when they got out. Bristol City Council recently decided to Ban the Box, which is ironic as they have been taking Cat D prisoners on day release for years...

There is a disconnect in the public's mind between the luxury hotel image that nobody in authority sees fit to deny, and the "disturbances" in prisons where the inmates have had enough of 23-hour bang-up. Somehow, people seem able to think that both versions of events are true. There was also the disconnect in healthcare that you mentioned. In the 1990s, women prisoners in labour in hospital were routinely chained to the delivery bed. Apparently, using a long chain rather than a short one made it OK. The public were horrified but weren't that bothered about stopping the practice.

There should be meaningful engagement with society, as today's prisoner is tomorrow's next-door neighbour. Instead, it's more like the attitude seen in the Balkans War - dehumanise the opposition so that you can treat them badly. Maybe we've become the new Enemy Within?
GO


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